I was first introduced to fantasy role-playing games in the mid-1970's through Dungeons and Dragons®. Like many RPG'rs at the time most of my previous gaming experience had been with tactical warfare simulations such as those put out by Avalon Hill. When I discovered D&D®, and later AD&D®, it was a new and wondrous thing full of exciting possibilities.
However I immediately saw things I either did not like, or wanted to improve and began making changes. By the early eighties I was playing a gaming system that was a massive combination of rules from a variety of games and supplemental materials.
In the mid 1980's I decided to abandon the whole mess and start over with a completely unique gaming system--and thus was born the Adventure Role-play Gaming System or ARG System. I must confess, like so many young and immature game designers before me (and since), that I also harbored the idea of creating the perfect game system. That was before I realized that the very idea was absurd.
For nearly ten years my play-testers patiently endured experiment after experiment--watching their characters' stats and abilities change, then disappear only to be replaced by new ones.
Around 1992 the game reached a (more or less) stable form and I put it away as life's other demands (a wife, job, children, my fiction...) required more attention.
Six years later, a chance conversation in a news group (rec.games.frp.misc) inspired me to revive an earlier experiment to use the degree of success of the attack roll to also determine the amount of damage. Just about everything else was changed on the way. The initial approach was a percentile-based system but (noticing a reductionistic trend among some gamers) I also wanted a simpler d20 based option.
One of my initial goals was to make it a universal system. But, as others have wisely pointed out, that's not possible. Character stats, professions and skills all contain some assumptions as to the type of world being used. Magic is even worse. (Which is why a surprising number of games even tell you to import your favorite magic system from other games.) What's more, any attempt at a universal system often results in a boringly generic system, stripped of all character.
The ARG System is intended to be a multi-genre system. It is only an accident of history that we started with a fantasy game. We already have plans for post-apocalyptic/cyber-punk/mutagenic gameJ and will be producing others in the future.
For now we are looking for play-testers, game referees, adventure/game designers and artists. Unfortunately, at this point, the only reward we can offer for your contributions is a byline on the contributor's page. Perhaps, someday, that will change. If you would like to contribute, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org